How many of us have secretly hoped that we will be ‘discovered’ by some hot new literary agent or plucked from writer obscurity by a medium to large publishing house who will alter the course of our writing careers F-O-R-E-V-E-R?
Go on, admit it. We’ve all day-dreamed about being the writing world’s equivalent to Kate Moss and being spotted in an airport (although, I’m not sure how likely it is that an author would be spotted in an airport). But let’s face it, unlike Kate Moss, most of us have to work at being discovered and believing anything else is, well, a fairy tale.
The Cinderella Complex, a term first coined by Colette Dowling in her ground-breaking book of the same name, describes women’s hidden fear of independence. However, I don’t agree that this is purely a ‘woman’s issue’. Men are equally guilty of hoping someone else will swoop in and give them their happy ending. (Ahem.) For years however, it was women who were encouraged to place all of their hopes and dreams on the arrival of Mr. Right, who would magically make all said dreams come true.
Why we ever thought another human being could do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves, I’ll never know. Mr. Right has his own crap to deal with and would probably quite like to make his own dreams come true. Now that we have finally accepted that the opposite sex does not in fact come with a magic wand, or armour, or any of the things necessary to make our lives brilliant, it’s time to debunk the other areas of our life where we may still be harbouring the desire to be rescued.
Writers are notoriously lacking in confidence when it comes to their writing and waste a lot of time waiting for some kind of ‘validation’ in the form of agent representation or proper, old-fashioned publishing deals. But what we have to realise is that waiting around for Mr. Write is the worst mistake you could make in terms of your development as a writer and your future writing prospects. You have to claim your title first, then you will get the recognition.
The only way to become a ‘good’ writer, is to write. You can’t really expect publishers (or readers for that matter) to invest in you as an author, if you haven’t put the hours in learning your craft. You need to find your writer’s voice and the only way to do that is (you guessed it) start writing. This is the perfect time to experiment, try out different genres and see what suits you best. Blogging is a fantastic way to explore your writing style and not only that, being part of a blogging community gives you the kind of instant feedback that will motivate you to write more and read more.
We all keep hearing about how the publishing world has changed and it’s true. Authors are now expected to have established themselves, whether that be through blogging, self-publishing or otherwise, before publishers are willing to take the risk. As a writer, you have to get out there and show people what a great writer you are by, well, writing. It’s no good sending off dozens of submissions claiming how great you could be, when there people out there already doing it and building a sizeable readership to boot.
Conversely, it doesn’t all have to be about the end result. I think most writers start out fantasizing about a book deal that involves lots of advances and awards (I’d like to thank the academy, etc) but taking your destiny into your own hands can change your perception of success. There are many examples of authors who have left their publishers because they felt restricted by their contracts and oftentimes ‘shoe-horned’ into a certain genre that doesn’t suit. UK author of ‘Feral Youth’ Polly Courtney famously left her publisher HarperCollins after they continually packaged her books as Chick Lit when they were anything but.
You might find that self-publishing, while it takes a lot more work, is actually more rewarding (both creatively and financially). You might get an agent, you might not. You might become a hybrid author, publishing both traditionally and via a self-publishing platform like Claire Cook, author of ‘Must Love Dogs’ when her publishers failed to renew her contract.
Writing is a long, hard, slog and the only difference between successful writers and unsuccessful writers is that they never give up. As in life, you might not get exactly what you had hoped for when you started out in your writing career, but you might find something better.
I read a quote recently, ‘You don’t get what you wish for, you get what you work for’. It’s such a positive affirmation and removes us from the powerlessness of the Cinderella Complex to the empowerment of making our own dreams come true.
So instead of waiting for something to happen, start making it happen. The hardest part about writing is the waiting game while you send off query letters, articles, manuscripts etc. Never assume that your work is done and you can loll about eating Cheerios in your PJ’s until ‘The Call’ comes. Keep writing the next story, the next article and keep reading because eventually you will get there, wherever there is, and you will have done it all by yourself.
If writing is what you want, go after it. Don’t wait to be asked.
Living on the West Coast of Ireland, which is not renowned for its sunny climate, Evie escapes from the inclement weather into a converted attic to write stories and dream about underfloor heating.
Inspired by her love of historical fiction, gothic mysteries and romantic comedies, Evie has crafted her own unique style of writing that is warm, engaging and full of humour. She is currently working on her third novel, when not hanging around Twitter @evgaughan.
Sites That Link to this Post
- The Cinderella Complex – Waiting For Mr. Write | Toni Kennedy : A Writing Life | March 18, 2016
- The Cinderella Complex – Evie Gaughan | March 10, 2016